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With safety in mind, head for spectacular spray at the coast.

Byline: Randi Bjornstad The Register-Guard

If gorgeous pictures of Pacific storms whet your appetite, and you now want to experience firsthand buffeting by wind and spray, there are hundreds of spots to stop along the coast.

Some of the best are part of the Oregon Parks Department system, because they have readymade trails and barriers that help keep people at a safe distance from treacherous tides and wild winds.

But wherever you stop, be careful: Look out for "sneaker" waves that surge onto the beach without warning; stay away from logs, which can be thrown by the surf with deadly force; beware of strong "rip" currents that can carry even the strongest swimmers out to sea; stay off small enclosed beaches and use tide tables to be sure you don't get trapped; and keep to trails, well away from cliff edges.

With safety uppermost in mind, here's a sampling of good places to watch storms, from north to south, as described in state brochures:

Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area (Pacific City) - Part of the Three Capes Scenic Route (along with Cape Meares and Cape Lookout), Kiwanda is the smallest of the three, but it's one of the best places to experience spectacular wave action.

D River State Recreation Site (Lincoln City) - The world's shortest, D River flows a mere 120 feet from Devil's Lake into the roaring ocean. The park is right off the highway with easy access to a busy - and windy - beach that has earned the title Kite Capital of the World.

Rocky Creek State Scenic Viewpoint (Newport) - A spectacular oceanfront park on a forested bluff overlooking the ocean, offshore rocks provide spectacular wave action in storms and are nesting areas for birds and sea lions. The viewpoint is an official Whale Spoken Here site for watching migrating and resident gray whales.

Otter Crest State Scenic Viewpoint (Newport) - Located 500 feet above the ocean with a breathtaking crescent of white sandy beach stretching to the south, with views of Cape Foulweather's promontory and the Devil's Punch Bowl.

Devil's Punch Bowl State Natural Area (Newport) - During winter storms, water from the restless ocean slams with a thundering roar into a hollow rock formation shaped like a huge punch bowl. The surf churns, foams and swirls as it mixes a violent brew. The punch bowl was probably created by the collapse of the roof over two sea caves, then shaped by wave action. The park is a popular whale watching site.

Neptune State Scenic Viewpoint (Yachats) - Benches set on a cliff above the beach give an excellent view of Cumming Creek, wildlife and the rock-pounding waves. From this location, you can watch for whales, see a variety of birds, sea lions and the occasional deer in the creek. The creek is also a great place to look for agates. At low tide you can walk to the south to see a natural cave and tidepools.

Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint (Florence) - Heceta Head State Park (which includes Devil's Elbow State Park) is located in a cove at the mouth of Cape Creek. There are picnic tables sheltered from the wind and a great view of the ocean. A short trail leads to the historic Heceta Head Lighthouse and lighthouse keeper's house. A recently completed trail gives you a spectacular view of the coast north to Cape Perpetua. On the west side of 1,000-foot-high Heceta Head, 205 feet above the ocean, the lighthouse is one of the most photographed on the coast.

Sunset Bay State Park (Coos Bay) - A network of hiking trails connects Sunset Bay with nearby Shore Acres and Cape Arago state parks, with spectacular ocean vistas from atop the rugged cliffs and headlands and views of Gregory Point and the Cape Arago lighthouse.

Cape Arago State Park (Coos Bay) - Located at the end of Cape Arago Highway, the park features a scenic headland jutting into the Pacific Ocean. The south cove trail leads down to a sandy beach and superior tidepools, while the north cove trail provides access for fishing, beachcombing and viewing the off-shore colonies of seals and sea lions at Shell Island. The trail is closed March 1 through June 30 to protect seal pups.

Bandon State Natural Area (Bandon) - Located along the Beach Loop Road, there are several locations with beach access, picnicking and unsurpassed views.

Cape Blanco State Park (Port Orford) - Cape Blanco is the most southern of Oregon's lighthouses, and is the westernmost point in Oregon. An 8-mile trail follows the headland beaches, with many spectacular ocean vistas, woodlands and wetland settings.

Port Orford Heads State Park (Port Orford) - The park has some excellent hiking trails on the headlands affording spectacular views up and down the Pacific Coast, a large resident blacktail deer population and the historic Port Orford Lifeboat Station.

Cape Sebastian State Scenic Corridor (Gold Beach) - The most striking features of this park are its two parking vistas, both more than 200 feet above sea level. At the south parking vista, you can see up to 43 miles to the north with Humbug Mountain filling the view. Looking south, you can see nearly 50 miles toward Crescent City, Calif., and Point Saint George Lighthouse.

Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor (Brookings) - The 12-mile, forested linear park with a rugged, steep coastline interrupted by small sand beaches is named in honor of Samuel Boardman, the first Oregon Parks superintendent. It features seaside prairies, spectacular vistas, secluded cove beaches, rugged cliffs and forested sea stacks.

Harris Beach State Park (Brookings) - The park boasts Bird Island (also called Goat Island), the largest island off the Oregon Coast and a National Wildlife Sanctuary for such rare birds as the tufted puffin. The area is known for its views during powerful and dramatic winter storms.
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Title Annotation:Oregon Life
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jan 17, 2010
Previous Article:WAVE WATCH.
Next Article:WEDDINGS.

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